Under the Dome

Who Obama might pick for Fourth Circuit

Four North Carolinians could be up for a federal judgeship.

President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate will have the opportunity next year to fill four vacancies on the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The Richmond-based court oversees cases from the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Because of its reputation as the most conservative appeals court in the country, many legal experts expect Obama and the Senate to attempt to move the court leftward.

Although a North Carolinian will not necessarily be nominated, the talk in Raleigh's legal circles is that four Tar Heels may be up for consideration:

Rich Leonard: A U.S. Bankrtupcy Court judge in the Eastern District, Leonard came close to an appointment before because of his friendship with former Sen. John Edwards.

Jim Wynn: A state Appeals Court judge, Wynn also came close during the Clinton administration but Sen. Jesse Helms blocked his appointment.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson: A state Supreme Court justice, Timmons-Goodson also made a lengthy list of potential Supreme Court picks by

Martha Geer: A state Appeals Court judge, Geer handled a number of cases in the U.S. Appeals Court while in private practice handling corporate litigation.

The usual caveats apply. As with all conventional wisdom, these names have surfaced because they are the most obvious picks, but that doesn't mean they're the only choices.

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